roasted carrots crumbled tofu stir fry huckleberry pie meatless meatballs


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midlife huckleberry

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

Recipe: huckleberry pie

Housekeeping Update: Subscribers may have received an email burp of use real butter post summaries recently. We’re not sure what Feedburner is doing, so I apologize. We are in the process of migrating your use real butter subscription to a new service while minimizing any further weirdness you may encounter. Until the new service is in place, we haven’t cut off Feedburner, but you can self-subscribe in the little subscription box on the upper right of the blog. Thank you so much for your patience and thanks to Lesley for recommending follow.it. -jen xo


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September sways between summer and autumn and occasionally dips a toe in faux-winter here in the mountains. The month began thick with greenery and hot sun, and ended draped in the golden leaves of autumn as the high country backdrops were accented in white from recent snowfall. I find it a refreshing reprieve from relentless awesome summer doings. Like much of the wildlife around us, we are tending to those responsibilities we shirked all summer in favor of foraging mushrooms and huckleberries.

Labor Day is an unofficial bookend of summer, which means we spent our birthdays in relative peace and quiet. Relative because… pups. Per Jeremy’s request, I prepared a multi-course seafood dinner for his birthday dinner and baked a hazelnut almond dacquoise with fresh berries and chocolate mousse for dessert. For my own birthday, my 50th, I made chicken porcini pot pie, had a scoop of non-dairy store bought ice cream, and defeated several armies of hostile alien forces. No midlife crisis, just midlife casual no-drama low-stress appreciation for the ordinary. We were in Crested Butte last weekend to winterize our place and do a little leaf peeping.


birthday boy and yuki side-eye

neva enjoying outside time (yuki did not want to climb onto the boulder)

everybody happy

aspen and spruce

this will never get old

walking through golden aspen stands

lovely views in every direction



It’s late in the season to be posting a huckleberry recipe, but I know people are still foraging them to the north and west of Colorado. We had a pretty good huck season locally. If you were diligent about picking and freezing these tiny flavor bombs this summer, you might have enough to make a pie. If (like me) you use your precious huckleberries sparingly, then a full-sized 9-inch pie might be too great a demand of your stash. A 4-inch pie requires a mere 1 1/2 cups. Thankfully, frozen huckleberries work just as well as fresh in this pie, so one could conceivably create a blast of late summer any time of year. And as always, if you don’t have huckleberries, you can substitute with wild blueberries or regular blueberries.

a tremendous season full of big little huckleberries



Truth be told, I’ve never made a life-size huckleberry pie. 6-8 cups is a full day of picking in the BEST of seasons in Colorado. So the recipe below is for a 9-inch pie, because apparently there are locales where the huckleberries are large and plentiful and you don’t have to crouch on the ground for hours on end to get them. The process I photographed here is the making of a 4-inch pie. I also ditched the pie dough in the Saveur recipe because Kenji’s pie dough is now my trusted go-to recipe.

flour, salt, sugar, butter, ice water

pulse sugar, salt, 2/3 of the flour, and cold butter together

cut in the remaining flour

drizzle with cold water

press and fold the dough together

holding shape and ready to chill



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no whammies

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Recipe: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

June went from lovely to horrid and (thankfully) back to lovely. I’m sure we have several swings of the pendulum ahead, but right now I’m truly grateful for the current cool and rainy pattern that is sitting on our faces and keeping smoke from the wildfires at bay.


the pups love hiking season

spring was late, but glorious nonetheless

wildfire smoke from the west made for dramatic evenings

the heat wave melted yuki and everyone else



My cousin moved to Colorado during the pandemic, but we haven’t had a chance to see one another since becoming fully vaccinated. However, two of my aunts (my mom’s younger sisters) were visiting my cousin recently and we met up for a short hike in Boulder. I can only hope to be as physically and mentally fit as these lovely ladies in 20+ years!

mom’s family has good genes

the wildflowers are having a good show this year



Originally, I was planning to post another recipe that wasn’t gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, but our neighbors did us a favor a while back and I wanted to thank them with some cookies. Except a 2-week heat wave crushed our souls and I couldn’t even *think* of baking. So when this cold front blew in from the north and brought our overnight temperatures into the 40s this weekend, I began testing these gluten-free cookies. My neighbor is gluten-free and I figured she was tired of the two or three recipes I kept sending over. Besides, it’s always good to expand your repertoire of baked goods. Jeremy, my neighbor, her husband (who can eat gluten), Canyon Erin (celiac) and her husband (eats gluten) all gave the recipe the thumbs up. And my neighbor asked if it was on the blog. That’s why you’re not getting meatless meatballs today.

bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, almond flour, sugar, brown butter, light brown sugar, vanilla bean, egg, baking soda, flake sea salt, kosher salt



Recipe testing baked goods at elevation sucks, because it doesn’t take much for things to go sideways at 8500 feet. The first rule of recipe testing is to try the recipe as is. Despite a few minor discrepancies between the volumes and weights (I follow weights), this one is pretty stable. I tweaked about with chilling the dough and cooking times and some other flavor enhancers, but all in all I feel this is a solid recipe with some of the best results in flavor and texture. Now, I do recommend chopping the chocolate over using chocolate chips. Even if you use chocolate chips, chop them up because the shards of chocolate mixed into the dough promote a creamier interior. And unsalted butter works just fine, but… use brown butter if you want it to be a little *extra*. If you make your own brown butter for this recipe, start with a half pound of unsalted butter which will yield enough brown butter for your needs. And let it cool to room temperature before using it.

start with 16 tablespoons of butter

melt it over medium heat and stir *constantly* until the milk solids turn golden (5-8 minutes)

immediately empty the brown butter into a bowl to cool before using



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safe

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Recipe: confetti cookies

Please tell me you are okay.

We are safe, but… I don’t feel okay.

So flowed texts and messages last Monday evening with friends and family checking on us, and for us checking on our people in Boulder after the mass shooting that afternoon. This, right on the heels of another mass shooting in Atlanta that included 6 Asian women in the death count. It’s been a lot to process as a Chinese-American woman living in Boulder County. Actually, it’s a lot to process if you are capable of empathy.


behind a snow bank on the side of a building in frisco, colorado


My fully vaccinated parents are starting to visit with their fully vaccinated friends in small numbers and I think it has really lifted their spirits. I know this because random urgent cooking question texts from my parents have begun popping up on my phone. In contrast, Jeremy and I continue to isolate, mostly because of the pandemic and partly because the absence of a social life is far less stressful for us. As many ski resorts and Nordic centers begin to wind down their seasons, we are hopeful more spring storms will deliver an extended backcountry season and boost the moisture our mountains desperately need.


glorious skate ski under the watchful eye of mount crested butte

the pups love a ski tour in fresh snow

powder day on the mountain


Guess who turned 6 years old this weekend? It’s hard to believe we’ve had Neva for nearly 6 years. The first three felt like an eternity, but the last three have flown by as Neva made enormous progress with her anxieties. Proper medication, training, compassion, and even Yuki (!) have all contributed to Neva living her best good girl life. We love her so and look forward to more adventures and butt rubs and special dinners and UPS/FedEx/school bus warnings and snuggles.


such a good and patient birthday girl

her favorites: beef, bacon, cheese, apple (the parsley, not so much)

what’s a birthday pawty without your little sister?


I’m pretty sure if it feels like spring around our mountains, the rest of you are immersed in the signs of the new season (unless you are in the non-tropical Southern Hemisphere). In addition to longer and warmer days, I relish the color explosion after our extended season of muted winter tones. Tiny new leaves catch the sunlight and glow like peridots suspended in the air. Flower blooms round out the rest of the rainbow. It’s festive, much like this confetti cookie.

I set about testing the recipe in December when there was a sprinkle shortage. I should have anticipated that the home-bound and pandemic-fatigued, plunging toward the darkest nights of the year, would reach for those tiny symbols of edible joy on the store shelves to get them through the holidays. A little tweaking and a month later, I was able to finalize our preferred version of the cookie and with a better selection of sprinkles.


almond extract, butter, flour, cream cheese, sugar, sprinkles, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg


I admit, the sole reason I made these cookies was because I found the colorful sprinkles mesmerizing. I wasn’t expecting deliciousness, but they are that AND they are easy to make. Tasty, pretty, easy: three qualities that define a happy cookie, which is what we could all use about now. I doubled the amount of vanilla bean and almond extract for a more pronounced flavor, but you can dial that back if you prefer. And if the step of rubbing the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar is not within your time constraints, use vanilla extract.


rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar

whisk the dry ingredients together

add egg and extract(s) to the creamed butter, cream cheese, and sugar



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